Gateway Essentials: Jack Williamson

John Stewart ‘Jack’ Williamson, who died ten years ago today, was one of the most significant writers in the field of science fiction.

He published his first SF story, ‘The Metal Man’, in 1928 and continued to write high quality SF until his death in 2006, along the way coining many of the terms the genre now takes for granted, such as ‘terraforming’ and ‘genetic engineering’. He was the second writer (after Heinlein) to be named a SFWA Grand Master and was the oldest recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

To quote The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction:

He was an sf writer of substance for over seventy years . . . In his work and in his life he encompassed the field. For many, his death served as a symbolic marker of the end of the twentieth century genre, which began when he began.

So, where to start?

We recommend The Legion of Space, the first volume in the eponymous series; proto-urban fantasy, Darker Than You Think; and one of the earliest explorations of AI in literature, The Humanoids. And for those interested in the history of the field as well as the field itself, you could do a lot worse than read Jack Williamson’s Hugo Award-winning autobiography Wonder’s Child: My Life in Science Fiction.


You can find Jack Williamson’s work via his Author page on the Gateway website, and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.